Tom Wilkinson, star of ‘The Full Monty’ and ‘Michael Clayton,’ has died

Actor Tom Wilkinson of 'Belle' poses at the Guess Portrait Studio during 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2013 in Toronto, Canada.

Actor Tom Wilkinson in 2013.Larry Busacca/Getty ImagesCNN — 

Tom Wilkinson, two-time Oscar-nominated actor from films including “Shakespeare in Love,” “The Full Monty” and “Michael Clayton,” has died.

He was 75.

The news was confirmed by Wilkinson’s publicist Nancy Seltzer, who shared a statement with CNN.

“It is with great sadness that the family of Tom Wilkinson announce that he died suddenly at home on December 30. His wife and family were with him,” the statement read. “The family asks for privacy at this time.”

No cause of death was immediately available.

The English-born actor had some 130 screen credits to his name. He was nominated for his first Academy Award in 2002 for his leading role in “In the Bedroom” opposite Sissy Spacek. Wilkinson’s second Oscar nod was for the 2007 film “Michael Clayton,” for his supporting role.

Wilkinson appeared in many high-profile films over his career, from “Girl with a Pearl Earring” to “Duplicity,” known for his deft ability to appear in both period stories as well as contemporary dramas and thrillers.

He made his mark early on in the 1990s in successful films like “Wilde” and the Oscar-winning “Sense and Sensibility” with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet.

In addition to his chilling performance as an unhinged, guilt-stricken lawyer in “Clayton” opposite George Clooney, standout roles for Wilkinson include the kooky doctor who manipulates his patients’ realities in 2004’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” featuring Winslet and Jim Carrey, and a high-ranking Nazi officer caught up in the plot to kill Hitler in the Tom Cruise-starring “Valkyrie” from 2008.

MICHAEL CLAYTON, Tom Wilkinson, George Clooney, 2007.

Tom Wilkinson, left, and George Clooney in 2007’s “Michael Clayton.”©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

But it was arguably 1997’s “The Full Monty” that put Wilkinson on the map as a major player in Hollywood – and it was a role he almost passed on.

“I was simultaneously offered the lead in a TV series and a possible part in a low-budget movie,” he told The Guardian in 2011.

“I remember phoning a friend and he said, ‘Take the TV, take the TV’. But I didn’t follow his advice, and the TV turned out to be crap.”

“Monty,” costarring Robert Carlyle, ended up being a huge success that spawned a Broadway show as well as a recent Disney+ series revival that briefly featured Wilkinson.

The actor was also known and lauded for other work on television, with a propensity for playing well known historical and political figures.

He won an Emmy for playing Benjamin Franklin in the 2008 miniseries “John Adams,” and earned an Emmy nod for his portrayal of JFK’s father Joe in 2011’s miniseries “The Kennedys.” On the big screen, Wilkinson played President Lyndon B. Johnson in 2014’s “Selma.”

But outside of politicians, the much in-demand character actor made an impact as villains as well, playing mob boss Carmine Falcone in 2005’s “Batman Begins,” the first movie in director Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, and earlier as a criminal mastermind in “Rush Hour” in 1998, opposite Jackie Chan.

Born in Leeds, England in 1948, the actor caught the drama bug early on, when at 18 he was asked to direct a play, according to the BBC.

“For the first time in my life, I started doing something I knew how to do,” he said.

“I realised it wasn’t necessarily just these southern middle-class types that got to be actors; it could possibly be people like me. And once I knew, I never changed my mind.”

Even later, Wilkinson knew he was “suited” to the acting profession, and had an interesting take on his approach.

“I’m temperamentally suited to the business of acting,” he said in an interview with The Guardian in 2008. “I’m quite fatalistic. If it’s not happening, it’s not happening, and there’s very little you can do.”

In a statement shared via a representative to CNN later on Saturday, Wilkinson’s “Michael Clayton” costar George Clooney said, “Tom made every project better. Made every actor better. He was the epitome of elegance and he will be dearly missed by all of us.”

Wilkinson is survived by his wife, Diana Hardcastle, and two daughters.

This story has been updated with additional information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *